Art

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Art Photography

Striking Portraits by Artist Tawny Chatmon Embellished with Gold Garments and Ornate Backdrops

June 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Tawny Chatmon, shared with permission

In The Redemption, photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon (previously) celebrates the beauty of Black hair through a series of arresting portraits superimposed with 24 karat gold flourishes. Each photograph features a solemn child who’s dressed in hand-painted ornate, gilt garments that are inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase. “These portraits are meant to act as a counter-narrative and redemptive measure to uplift and elevate Black hair, tradition, and culture freeing us from negative stereotypes,” Chatmon says in a statement. “An intent, not to be confused with seeking validation, but rather an unyielding affirmation of Black beauty.”

By evoking Klimt, the Maryland-based artist hopes to elicit similar feelings as when considering some of the painter’s pieces like “The Kiss,” for example. “I remember being drawn to the details, the poses, of course, the gold, and the grace,” she says of her initial reaction to his pieces. The ornamental additions immediately signal beauty, which has many different meanings for Chatmon.

Beauty is every child in these portraits. Beauty is individuality and nonconformity. Beauty is something that you saw, that you can’t stop thinking about because it made such a good impression on you. Beauty is the way I felt when I got to hold each of my babies after giving birth to them. Beauty is motherhood. Beauty is when my 15-year-old son makes it a point to hug me every night and tells me he loves me. Beauty is goodness. Beauty is knowing you’re beautiful even in a world hellbent on making you think otherwise.

To explore more of the artist’s layered photographs that consider both personal and cultural conceptions of allure, grace, and strength, head to her site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Fringed Rugs Bulge and Fold in Illusory Paintings by Artist Antonio Santín

June 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Antonio Santín, shared with permission

Madrid-based artist Antonio Santín paints hyperrealistic depictions of ornate rugs that appear to billow and crease on the feet-long canvases. Complete with intricate motifs and fringed edging, the works feature thousands of textured dots, spirals, and complex arrangements made with oil paint that mimic the organic and geometric designs found on carpets.

Whereas many of the artist’s previous projects have focused on multi-colored patterns, he’s turning to monochromatic pieces with a focus on “sculptural relief that goes beyond the feeling of embroidery,” which has altered his process.

To achieve this level of intricacy, I now use pneumatic machinery. When compressed air pushes the oil paint inside a cartridge, a thin thread gets out of a fine tip. By controlling the speed of the output and the way it’s applied on the canvas, it is possible to shape oil paint into complex filigrees. Later, I apply a dark oil paint glazing, which not only produces the chiaroscuro that creates the trompe l’oeil, it also serves as a patina that highlights all the sculptural relief in the painting.

Some of Santín’s illusory pieces are on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art in New York, although it currently is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the artist is preparing for a solo show at Galerie ISA in Mumbai in January 2021. To follow his heavily detailed work, head to Instagram.

 

“Elevator Pitch” (2019), oil on canvas, 60 x 78.8 inches

Left: “Toast to Ashes” (2020), oil on canvas, 59 x 84.6 inches. Right:

“Música Ligera” (2020), oil on canvas, 35.4 x 45.3 inches

 

 



Art Food Photography

Sliced and Diced Food Arranged into Color-Coded Sequences by Adam Hillman

June 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Adam Hillman, shared with permission

Adam Hillman (previously) has taken recommendations to choose a balanced diet seriously. For each slice of Granny Smith apple, the New Jersey-based artist pairs a quartered cucumber, halved kiwi, and peeled plantain in a meticulous, color-coded arrangement.

Using produce, candy, and breakfast fare, Hillman organizes an array of perishables into patterns and geometric sequences, which he often shares on Instagram. “There’s something beautiful about working with something so transient, and the beauty of the materials is something that can only be preserved through photography long after the food within the photo has either rotted or been eaten,” he tells Colossal.

For those in need of another dose of nutrients, Hillman offers prints from Society6.

 

 

 



Art

Targets Mask Women and Girls in Powerful Thread Portraits by Artist Nneka Jones

June 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Shooting Range Target” (2019), hand-embroidery on canvas, 8 x 10 inches. All images © Nneka Jones, shared with permission

A recent University of Tampa graduate, activist artist Nneka Jones masterfully blends embroidery thread to stitch stunning portraits of young girls, women, and the occasional celebrity. Sometimes donning a fringed shirt that cascades from the canvas, the subjects wear somber faces and stare forward through the gaps of a bullseye or scope, symbols that serve a larger purpose.

By obscuring and literally marking the faces with targets, the Trinidadian artist focuses on “the social and political issues affecting Caribbean society.” Jones visualizes the ways young girls of color, in particular, frequently experience the destructive effects of human trafficking and sexual abuse. “Through each series and their captivating imagery and symbolism, I hope that this is a call to action for everyone to become aware of sex trafficking and stand up against it,” she writes. “I believe that contemporary artists, particularly those that consider themselves ‘activist artists,’ are important today for starting a conversation without using any words.”

Jones shares much of her activism-inspired work on Instagram and has prints available in her shop. (via The Jealous Curator)

 

“Colorblind Target” (2019), hand-embroidery on canvas, 8 x 10 inches

“Biggie Embroidered” (2019), hand-embroidery on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

“Dartboard Target” (2019), hand-embroidery on canvas, 8 x 10 inches

“Colorblind Target” (2019), hand-embroidery on canvas, 8 x 10 inches

 

 

 



Art

Bodies Breach Water’s Surface in Ethereal Paintings by Artist Calida Garcia Rawles

June 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Lost in the Shuffle” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 36 X 24 inches. All images © Calida Garcia Rawles, shared with permission

Five years ago, Calida Garcia Rawles learned to swim by joining a team dedicated to the exercise. The sessions were “therapeutic and spiritually uplifting,” the Los Angeles-based artist shares with Colossal. “I found that I felt emotionally lighter after leaving the pool, no matter what issues I was working out before I jumped into the water. This led me to begin using water as a visual language… a way to heal and address difficult and divisive issues.”

Through a serene body of work, Rawles renders figures floating through bright blue waters. Generally outfitted in white or pastel, the subjects are surrounded by glinting ripples and bubbles. “When I am in the water and I see the light glistening off of it in certain ways… it just looks so magical. The way the body appears to break, splinter, and flow in moving water appears other-worldly to me,” she says.

Beginning with research, reading, and the occasional interview, the artist searches for subjects, who then are submerged in water and captured through hundreds of photographs. “It’s kind of like quilting… with the images. I use this as a springboard to start the paintings,” she says. Rawles gleans concepts of the supernatural from writers like Octavia Butler and Ta-Nehisi Coates—who in 2019, released his first novel, The Water Dancer, which features Rawles’s work on the cover—that inform the ethereal qualities of her paintings.

Some of the artist’s work is on view through July 4 as part of a group exhibition at Various Small Fires Seoul. For a deeper look into her restorative paintings, head to Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)

 

“Transcend” (2018), acrylic on canvas, 48 X 60 inches

“Pulse” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 24 X 18 inches

“Radiating my Sovereignty” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 84 X 72 inches

“New Day Coming” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 120 inches

“Reflecting my Grace” (2019), acrylic on canvas, 84 X 72 inches

“Echo my Moonlight” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 30 X 24 inches

“Soar” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 24 X 18 inches

 

 



Art

Remarkable Portraits by Artist Amy Sherald Render Subjects in Grayscale Against Vibrant Backdrops

June 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Precious jewels by the sea” (2019), oil on canvas, 120 × 108 × 2 1/2 inches. All images © Amy Sherald

Amy Sherald grew up in Columbus, Georgia, which shaped her conceptions of identity and fundamentally influenced her artistic practice. “Acknowledging the performative aspects of race and Southernness, I committed myself to exploring the interiority of Black Americans,” the artist told Smithsonian Magazine in December 2019. “I wanted to create unseen narratives.”

Now living and working in Baltimore, Sherald paints distinctive portraits set against bold, vibrant backdrops. She renders each subject, who stares directly at the viewer, in her signature grayscale. “A Black person on a canvas is automatically read as radical,” she said. “My figures needed to be pushed into the world in a universal way, where they could become a part of the mainstream art historical narrative. I knew I didn’t want it to be about identity alone.”

When considering how Sherald titles her works, it’s not surprising that she reads voraciously: “She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them” is a line from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God; Gwendolyn Brooks wrote “She was learning to love moments, to love moments for themselves” in Maud Martha; and “The lesson of the falling leaves” is a Lucille Clifton poem. Each explores the relationship between interiority and exteriority and the experience of Black Americans.

Notably, too, Michelle Obama chose Sherald to paint her official portrait, which was released in 2018. To see more of the artist’s portraits and follow her upcoming projects, head to Instagram.

 

“She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them” (2018), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

Left: “Try on dreams until I find the one that fits me. They all fit me” (2017), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches. Right: “Innocent You. Innocent Me” (2016), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it” (2019), oil on canvas, 129 15/16 x 108 x 2 1/2 inches

“She always believed the good about those she loved” (2018), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

Left: “The lesson of the falling leaves” (2017), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches. Right: “She was learning to love moments, to love moments for themselves” (2017), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

“What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American)” (2017), oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

 

 



Art

A Bold Black Lives Matter Statement Transforms a Street Leading to the White House in Washington D.C.

June 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

Photograph © Nadia Aziz

In a show of solidarity, a massive tribute to Black Lives Matter has been painted on the street leading to the White House in Washington, D.C. Completed in permanent street paint, the message features bold, yellow letters that span more than a block of 16th Street and marks a historic moment in the United States after weeks of protests.

Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned the banner-style piece, which city workers and volunteers began at 3 a.m. Friday morning ahead of weekend demonstrations. The new message is just two blocks north of Lafayette Square, where police charged peaceful protestors and released tear gas and flash-bang shells to clear the crowd for a photo-op for President Trump earlier this week. It sits at the foot of St. John’s Church.

Update: Black Lives Matter D.C. has denounced the public display, saying, “This is performative and a distraction from her active counter organizing to our demands to decrease the police budget and invest in the community. Black Lives Matter means Defund the police.”

Update 2: An earlier version of this article erroneously attributed the mural to a single artist.

 

 

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